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Tasks to "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner


1. What event is taking place at the outset of the story?
2. What is Faulkner’s first reference to Emily Grierson?
3. Describe the house in which she lived.
4. Who was Colonel Sartoris? How do we know that he is of a much older generation?
5. What tale did Colonel Sartoris invent?
6. Why was the next generation of mayors and aldermen dissatisfied with the so-called “arrangement” made by Colonel Sartoris?
7. How did Emily respond when a deputation of Aldermen came to visit her?

1. What had Emily done thirty years prior to the fathers of the deputation of Aldermen?
2. What had happened to her father and her sweetheart?
3. Why wouldn’t Judge Stevens do anything about the smell emanating from Emily’s house?
4. What did the men do to get rid of the smell?
5. Why did the people of the town begin to feel sorry for Emily?
6. What does Emily do with her Father’s body after he dies? What do the townspeople do after his death?
7. Why are the townspeople reluctant to call Emily crazy?

1. What was the cause of Emily’s illness?
2. What kind of man was Homer Barron? Why wouldn’t Emily’s Father approve of him?
3. What is meant by “noblesse oblige” - the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth
4. Why had the townspeople started to refer to her as “poor Emily”?
5. Why hadn’t the druggist stopped her from buying the arsenic?

1. What did the townspeople first think she was going to do with the arsenic?
2. How had the townspeople’s’ attitude changed towards Emily’s relationship with Homer Barron?
3. Why do you think the Baptist minister refused to return to Emily’s after his first interview with her?
4. What evidence does Faulkner give that Emily was to be wed to Homer?
5. Where did the townspeople think Homer had gone?
6. What took place after the cousins left?
7. Where was Homer Barron?
8. Why do you think Emily sets up lessons in china-painting?
9. What evidence is there that times had changed?

1. Describe Emily’s funeral.
2. What do they find in room upstairs?
3. What was the reaction of the townspeople?

Literary Analysis

a) Where and when does the story takes place?
b) What historical events and changes are mentioned in the story? How do they affect the lives of the characters.

a) Make a character sketch of Emily Grierson and Homer Barron using the character traits below
• Age and physical appearance
• Personality traits
• Stereotype
• Static character
• Developing character

Plot and Structure
a) Sum up the plot of the story
b) How is the short story structured?
c) What affect does Faulkner’s shift between past and present have on the short story?
d) Turning points – where do they take place?
e) What do you consider to be THE turning point in the story?

Narrators and Point of View
a) Who is the narrator of the story?
b) Do you think he or she is one of the townspeople? Why or why not.
d) What role do the townspeople play?

a) Choose one of the following themes and write an essay where you discuss and exemplify how the theme is developed in the novel.
• honor
• respectability
• love
• human suffering
• fear of change
• female oppression
• modernism vs. the past

a) Language
• William Faulkner belongs to a Southern oral tradition of storytelling. What characteristics of this tradition do we find in “A Rose for Emily”?
b) Tone
• How would you describe the tone of the story?

b) Symbols
Explain the following:
• the mansion
• the rose
• the dust
• Emily’s watch
• Strand of hair


Discuss the following with a partner
a) What does the title of the story bring to mind? Explain

b) Conflict or tension
• The main conflict in the story - internal or external?
• The past versus the present

c) Suspense
• How does Faulkner build up suspense in the short story?
• There is a sense of foreboding throughout the story. Point out specific passages where this takes place.


a) Using your character table, write a character portrayal of Emily.
Include :
• family background
• influences
• Emily as a symbol
• physical changes over time
• likes or dislikes

b) Write an essay called “Sanity versus Abnormality” on Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” in which you discuss her upbringing. Is there anything that could have affected her and psychological development? What could have saved her?

c) In “A Rose for Emily” we find several other characters such as Colonel Sartoris, the Negro servant, the Sheriff, the Baptist minister and the aldermen. What a part do they play in the story? Discuss in an essay.

e) Rewrite the ending
Throughout the story, Faulkner uses several elements of the macabre which lead up to the shocking ending. What do you think of the ending of the story? Rewrite your version of the ending.

Project Work

Project Work

a) William Faulkner’s life is as rich and interesting as his novels and short stories. Go online and prepare an audio and visual biography of the author. Include:
• His roots and family
• Different periods of Faulkner’s life
• Literary Influences
• Book lists
• Interviews

Make a digital presentation of your findings to the class including historical photos from magazines and newspapers as well as audio clips you found online.

Last updated 05/29/2018
Written by: Carol Dwankowski

Learning content

Literature after 1900

What is core content and additional content?

Subject Material

Tasks and Activites

External resources

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